For me, there are certain races that capture the imagination in a way others cannot; Roubaix, Tro Bro Leon, the month of skirmishing in Flanders leading up to the big one the week before Easter. Closer to home, indeed right here in the East Midlands, the races I look forward to above all others on the UK calendar are the Lincoln GP and the Rutland – Melton International CiCLE Classic with their pitted farm track sectors and cobbled ascents of Michaelgate echoing the hardman’s classics previously mentioned. Likewise, the riders who animate these races hold a special place in the hearts of the true tifosi. So when Heanor’s James Shaw added the Junior CiCLE Classic and Junior Kuurne-Brusselles-Kuurne to an already attention arresting palmares it was clear here was a young racer chiselled from the same stone as the pave that creates the legends. A contract with Lotto-Soudal’s U-23 squad and Dave Rayner Fund Support seemed more destiny than merely deserved..
(Photo credits: All images Shawn Ryan- http://photographer.shawn-ryan.co.uk)
Ciclissimo!. What has been your favourite race so far?
James Shaw. Paris-Roubaix was an amazing race unbelievably hard. It requires everything out of you from fitness to mental strength. The cobbles are killer and make the race so unpredictable. Having raced the Junior version I can’t wait to have an opportunity to ride it again. They don’t call it the hardest race in the world for nothing. I punctured I think three times in the end and was broomed up but what a race, what an experience.
C!. What about most surprising race win & why?
JS. Junior Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne. This was my first race of the 2014 season, I had no idea about what form I was in. I’d come off a big winter of training so I knew the strength was there but until you get into a race you never really know. The training must have worked though as I got the season off with a good win.
C!. And your most frustrating result. .
JS. National Champs 2014, still looking for an elusive stripy jersey. I knew I had the legs but I was marked from the start. The weather conditions were awful but this didn’t worry me, I tried attack after attack but everything was chased down.
C!. Lotto: What is the story so far? Are you going to be UK or Belgium based?
JS. I’m really looking forward to joining Lotto Soudal (Belisol) for the 2015 season. It’s an amazing opportunity for me to progress to the next level and grow not just as a rider but as a person. The team offers so many opportunities and I want to take everyone I can. I know it’s going to be hard but I just want to get stuck in and work as hard as I can. I went over to Belgium the other week to meet the team and managers so I know who I’ll be working with, I know where I’m going to be living so I just can’t wait to get out there now.
C!.How was the season racing with Haribo?
JS. Being with Haribo has been amazing. We had some amazing highs but equally some very low points but these just brought us closer together as a team. I’d like to thank everybody at Haribo they did everything for me that a junior academy is meant to which is to give me the opportunity to take the next step on the ladder. We had a great season and wherever we went, even in Europe, all we got asked was ‘do you have any sweets’.
C!. You’re not averse to a bit of mud and knobbly tyres- do you still get the CX bike out for a blast?
JS. I haven’t ridden Cyclo X for ages now. I do miss it and I can see myself maybe returning to it one day in the distant future but not for the next few years.
C!. Let’s talk music; I hear you are pretty Muso. What are your influences and faves
JS. Yes I love music it is a great way to rest and relax. I’m into Mile Kane and The Last Shadow Puppets at the moment. I love the 60’s Mod scene; The Who, the Kinks and even 80’s stuff like the Jam. I also listen to the likes of The Smiths, Oasis, Jake Bugg and everybody should always have time to listen to a bit of the Beatles when the mood takes you. My Guitar idol is slow hand legend Eric Clapton. I love a good film like Quadrophenia, The Blues Brothers or anything with Simon Pegg and Nick Frost in.
C!. What are your favourite items? Doesn’t have to be just cycling! A guitar. A hat you got from a trip to Wembley when you were a kid. That sort of thing. What is it that means they are special?
JS. Recently we bought a little black Vespa which I adore, it’s great just to chill out by going and giving it a polish and firing the engine up, there’s no smell quite like the smell of two stroke. I’ve also acquired a few guitars including a Les Paul, although not an original! I spend quite a bit of time between training practising a few chords.
C!. What are your favourite local roads to ride and train on?
JS. I’m very lucky to live so close to the Derbyshire Countryside, I love to get into the peaks. Forget Yorkshire, Derbyshire is God’s own country but don’t tell the lads at Haribo.
C!. Ok-The Worlds: Tell us about The Worlds!
JS. The World Championships. This was a dream come true, I’d ridden for GB Juniors earlier in the season but the Worlds was just massive. I was 16th in the bunch sprint and the first Brit home, I would have loved to have been a bit higher up the field but that result is strong and leaves me plenty to reflect and work on. The whole experience though was fantastic it wasn’t a matter of who I met but who I didn’t meet and apart the racing the highlight for me was meeting the great man himself; Eddie Merckx. It was my first World Championships and I will never forget it.